Proposed Food Safety Regulations a Welcome Sign of Progress, Says CSPI
Statement of CSPI Food Safety Director Caroline Smith DeWaal
January 4, 2013
Two years ago, President Obama signed into law the most comprehensive food safety reform in over 70 years. The landmark FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was passed following a series of deadly outbreaks linked to FDA-regulated foods, like spinach, peanut butter, and imported produce. The new law should transform the FDA from an agency that tracks down outbreaks after the fact, to an agency focused on preventing food contamination in the first place.
The proposed rules released by the FDA today, though 12 months behind the congressionally mandated date, are an important step toward that goal. Both rules are essential to control the food safety hazards in processed foods and fresh produce that spurred Congress to enact FSMA. The rule mandating preventive control programs will require food manufacturers to conduct a hazard analysis of their facilities and to develop preventive control plans aimed at keeping Salmonella, E. coli, and other dangerous pathogens out of the food supply. The law also called for specific regulations aimed at ensuring the safety of produce, since outbreaks related to spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, melons, and other fruits and vegetables have become so frequent.
These proposed regulations are a sign of progress that should be welcomed by consumers and the food industry alike. Still needed are protections in the form of rules aimed at ensuring the safety of imported food, also mandated by FSMA and long overdue. Americans want to know that the food coming from China, Mexico, and elsewhere is subject to the same standards, inspection, testing, and other regulatory improvements mandated for the domestic food industry. America’s increasingly global food supply demands a robust system that ensures that importers are living up to the same high standards we require of domestic producers.